A Problematic Fixing of a Sefer Torah

by R. Gidon Rothstein 23 Adar: R. Ovadiah Hedayah on a Problematic Fixing of a Sefer Torah [Click here for the audio version.] Part of what attracted me about random responsa was the exposure I (and we) gain to rabbinic figures whose names we have heard but whose Torah we rarely access. R. Ovadiah Hedayah, a significant Sephardi Torah scholar of the ...

Read More »

Shushan Purim of 1949

by R. Gidon Rothstein 16 Adar: When to Observe Shushan Purim of 1949 [This responsum is an example of an error I made in gathering responsa for this project: although we tend to treat the second Adar as the “real” one for purposes other than observing a yahrzeit (as my friend R. Shmuel Hain recently pointed out), I grouped Adar responsa from years with ...

Read More »


by R. Gidon Rothstein 9 Adar: R. Kook on Seances Starting in the mid-1800s, spiritism became a hot topic, particularly seances. On 9 Adar, 5672 (1912, showing how long the “fad” lasted), R. Kook was asked about the halachic issues involved, and he answered in Shu”t Da’at Kohen 69. Distinctions and Their Value Spoiler alert: Jews may not perform seances. The conclusion may be clear ...

Read More »

Two Arguments and How Chatam Sofer Refrained from Mixing In

by R. Gidon Rothstein 2 Adar: Two Arguments and How Chatam Sofer Refrained from Mixing In On two occasions on the 2nd of Adar, in 1813 and 1830, Chatam Sofer wrote letters to explain his resistance to weighing in on a far off dispute. Instead of taking them chronologically, I will follow the order of his publishing them. The first, in Shu”t Chatam ...

Read More »

Pidyon haBen for a Test Tube Baby

by R. Gidon Rothstein 25 Shevat: Pidyon haBen for a Test Tube Baby I grounded this series on the idea of finding responsa written on all the days of the Jewish calendar, as a way to minimize my input. Some readers still always assume I choose responsa which appeal to me, and blame me when the responsum espouses a position ...

Read More »

Including Non-Religious Jews in a Minyan, and Its Discontents

by R. Gidon Rothstein 11 Shevat: Including Non-Religious Jews in a Minyan, and Its Discontents On the 11th of Shevat, 5712 (1952), R. Yitzchak Herzog, z”l, the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, wrote Shu”t Heichal Yitschak Orach Chayim 2, to R. Ib Nathan Bamberger. R. Bamberger was one of the Jews whom local Danes had ferried to Sweden in fishing ...

Read More »

Kaddish for a Teenaged Child

by R. Gidon Rothstein 4 Shevat: Tzitz Eliezer on Saying Kaddish for a Teenaged Child Seemingly insensitive questions can lead to illuminating Torah nonetheless. On 4 Shevat 5756 (1996), Tzitz Eliezer 22;17 answered a man who objected to a father saying kaddish for his deceased teenager. Our instinct (or, maybe, my instinct; I don’t want to project my limitations onto you) might be to brush off the question. ...

Read More »

Converting Children of Mixed Marriages

by R. Gidon Rothstein 26 Tevet: Tzitz Eliezer on Converting Children of Mixed Marriages On 26 Tevet, 5719 (1959), a former student now serving as a rabbi in Lima wrote to R. Eliezer Yehudah Waldenberg (who eventually recorded his response in volume 19, responsum 34 of Tzitz Eliezer).  A man in his community was married to a non-Jewish woman, and had a son approaching ...

Read More »

Merging and Making New Shuls

by R. Gidon Rothstein 19 Tevet: Merging and Making New Shuls On 19 Tevet 5723 (January, 1963), R. Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, responded to a question about merging four synagogues in Scranton, Pa, published as Iggerot Moshe Orach Chayim 2;46.  R. Feinstein’s approach, in comparison with two much earlier responsa on similar issues, brings us to consider the nature of communal membership and whether and ...

Read More »

Husbands, Money, and Rabbinic Coercion

by R. Gidon Rothstein [Click for the audio version] Three 12 Tevet responsa loosely link together, so I’m going to fit all three into this essay.  The first, from 12 Tevet 5696 (1936), by R. Chaim Ozer Grodzensky (one of the respondents we see less often, so I take advantage of opportunities to see his ideas), gives a fairly straightforward answer. Along ...

Read More »

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

The latest weekly digest is also available by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter